Home arrow Motorcycle Reviews arrow 2008 KLR650 Review


When I arrived on day 2, the sun had come out and it was quickly warming up, so we wheeled the KLR outside for the Physical Inspection. Here is the Galaxy Silver & Blue 2008 KLR650 basking in the sun-

2008 KLR650 

The fit and finish on the new KLR is excellent. Quite an improvement over the previous model years.


Here's a head on shot- quite a change! New Turn signals, fender, brush guards & fairing are easily seen here-


A view from the left rear. You can see a couple of things in this shot- an entirely new tail piece, clear lense turn signals, kickstand, and how far out the side panels protrude from the fuel tank. That ought to be nice on those cold & rainy days!


A better view of the bike's tail you ask? Here you go-


 The inner fender extends down quite a bit. Heavy trail riding will tell if the clearance is adaquate-


The helmet lock is located on the rear rack-


The instument panel & fairing.

Lots of room on either side of the guages to mount switches & other gadgets. The upper sides of the fairing are flat and provide additional real estate for these items as well-

A view from above-


A closeup of the instrument panel.

From left to right-

Tachometer, Speedometer/Odometer, Engine Coolant Temperature Guage.

Neutral Light, Trip Odometer Reset Switch, High Beam Light, & Turn Signal Light


You can see here that the ignition switch is now part of the triple tree, a change from the previous version.


This is a closeup of the new triple tree taken from the side. I took this photo during assembly, and the forks were not in a "shipping position".


Looking down into the space between the fuel tank & the fairing you can see the radiator cap down there (sorry for the fuzzy pic). With a long funnel, it appears that you could easily add coolant without removing any parts of the fairing.


This is an interesting photo. You can see that the fairing frame mounts not only the fairing, but the side panels as well. Dumping the bike in the weeds might mean some serious damage to the side panels as well as the fairing themselves. Then again, the side panels & fairing felt pretty stout.

We won't know how the fairing on the KLR will fare until one has been dropped off road. Either way, I'd be in the market for radiator/side cover guards (when they become available).


The Headlights!

Two to be exact. I didn't have access to the bike in the dark, so I can't tell you how well the new headlights perform. I can tell you that during the day the headlights were as bright or brighter than the single bulb in my 2001.

The left bulb is illuminated in "Low" and both bulbs are on when on "High".

Here's a closeup with the lights off-


Low setting-


High setting-


On to the handlebar & controls.

The brush guards are new, but still unsupported like a true handguard. Good for wind, rain & light branch protection, the brush guards seem larger & better attached to the handlebar than the previous design.

The left side-


Here are the controls on the left side of the handlebar. The handlebar has a bar end installed, which is new to the KLR. Also new is the Push-to-cancel Turn Signal Switch, the choke lever and the independently mounted mirror mount.

All of these are huge improvements over the previous KLR.


The right mirror is not independently mounted like the left. It's integrated with the master cylinder assembly.

The right controls with a new rocker kill switch & start switch are shown below.


The seat for the 2008 has very much the same shape as the previous model, but the foam feels firmer and more comfortable. The cover is two tone black & grey, made from what I think is a sythetic material.


The rack is greatly improved. It is wider and longer, with the grab handles more directly off to the sides. The tool kit is still in it's storage compartment like the previous KLR.


Speaking of the tool kit, here it is. The contents are the same as the 2007 kit that I compared it to.


In this view the new exhaust header pipe is visible-


The tubular exhaust pipe is a big improvement over the previous design, and the finish is nice as well-

The radiator is a new design, reported to be thinner & more efficient than the previous radiator. The rock guard is new, made of plastic instead of steel. Radiator protection from stones kicked up by the front tire seems adequate.


The plastic skidplate is also a new design, as is the way that it is mounted-


Here's the forward mount for the skidplate-


The left side of the engine. You can see the solid gear shifter in this photo as well.


The front end. New dual piston disc brake calipers and ventilated discs are quite an improvement over the previous. The front tire is a Dunlop K750 90/90 - 21, unchanged from 2007.


A closeup of the dual piston front brake caliper-


I measured the forks outside diameter-  52 mm vs 50 mm on the 2007.

While I was at it, I measured the diameters of the spokes- 4.0 mm for the 2008 & 3.5 mm for the 2007.

Beefier is always good-


Looking at the right side of the bike, you can see that not much has changed, other than the exhaust guard is now stainless steel-


One change that I did notice was the routing of the spring from the rear brake lever to the rear brake light switch. The spring is routed through a metal guide on the frame, intentionally bending the spring as the rear brake is applied. This will be another "time will tell" change regarding durability.

Next I looked at the kick stand. This is another all new item, with a larger foot, new safety switch, and the return spring on the back of the stand instead of the front.


Here is a view of the right suspension link. I measured these, and the center to center distance for the 2008 is 136 mm vs the 2007 model's 127 mm-


The rear shock doesn't look much different from the previous models, with 5 preload adjustment settings.


The rear end. Much has changed back here to say the least.

The chain guard is a new plastic piece, and the swingarm is TOTALLY new. It is much a much smoother unit than the welded box swingarm of the previous model and the adjustment mechanism for chain tension and rear wheel alignment has also changed.

From the sprocket side-


The rear brake has been completely upgraded as well. It too gets a dual piston caliper and a  ventilated disc.

The rear tire is a Dunlop K750 130/80 - 17, unchanged from 2007.